Beauty without Vanity: Teaching Young Girls to Care for Their Appearance Modestly

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To care or not to care for their looks can be a battle devoted Christians face daily. After all, in the Holy Bible, excessive pride in one’s looks is considered a sin. One of the seven deadly sins, in fact. Vanity is sometimes to referred to as pride, which all Christians know to avoid.

But having no regard for your looks can be harmful, too. If you don’t even wash your face before going to bed, for example, that can leave your skin vulnerable to dirt and bacteria. Surely the Bible doesn’t promote poor hygiene and skin health? But does it encourage a long skincare ritual? What about a hair care regimen?

Young Christian girls may face this dilemma when they reach adolescence. That’s the time when they start getting more conscious of their appearance, so they’d naturally become interested in beauty. They may even start following beauty influencers on social media. If this behavior concerns you, are your feelings well-founded, or are you overthinking?

Vanity in Religion

The word vanity is rooted in “vain,” a character of being conceited, narcissistic, and seeing oneself as superior to others, regardless of their real status in life. Nothing in that definition states something about wanting to look good. However, a conceited and narcissistic attitude can involve an obsession with physical appearance.

Narcissism is the state of being overly absorbed in your appearance. If you drop everything, including your commitments, for the sake of looking good, that may be an example of a narcissistic attitude. Basically, if you value your looks over everything else, that’s vanity. But if you want to doll up for an event or freshen up for school, that’s not a problem. As such, young girls aren’t vain when they begin to develop an interest in beauty products. It’s just their brains telling them that they’re about to become a woman.

In Islam, women are allowed to wear makeup and to beautify themselves. But they are encouraged to practice discipline on when, where, and with whom they are displaying their beauty. Christians can interpret vanity in the Bible the same way. Women and girls should feel free to do what makes them beautiful, just in moderation.

Teaching Young Girls to Care for Their Looks Without Being Vain

mother and daughter

Without your guidance, your young daughter’s interest in beauty may develop into full-blown vanity. That’s because social media can exaggerate what girls need to look good. Many influencers subconsciously recommend buying expensive makeup to girls that aren’t even 18 yet. It doesn’t take a religious household to know that such is unnecessary for a still-growing girl.

So here’s a guide to discouraging young girls from being vain:

  • Know their motivations for looking good.

Christians aren’t forbidden to care for their looks. But they should have pure motivations for wanting to look good. For example, going to a formal event, like a school graduation. It would be inappropriate for them to show up on such a momentous event looking like they just got out of bed. So it’s completely fine to allow them to doll up.

But if their motivation is to be popular in school and intimidate bare-faced girls, that’s considered vanity. Talk to them that looking good should be for health and etiquette purposes only.

  • Health is more important than aesthetics.

Your looks can reflect your health. If your skin is dry, you’re most likely dehydrated. Also, the skin is the largest organ of the human body. Taking care of it improves your overall health.

So by the time your daughters show interest in skincare, remind them that health is more important than aesthetics. If they want to wear thick makeup every day, maybe they can consider using effective skincare products instead. That way, their faces will look fresh even without makeup, which can cause breakouts or allergic reactions.

  • Needs are more important than wants.

When you’re losing weight, it’s because your body needs to get rid of excess fat, and your muscles need to become stronger. Those needs should be your primary motivation, not to gain likes and comments on social media. But since adolescents aren’t likely to work out yet, they might be more concerned with their hair or wardrobe instead. If they’re having hair issues, remind them that addressing the source of those issues is more important than masking it with styling tools. Maybe they have a dry scalp, which natural anti-dandruff shampoo will fix better than an expensive salon treatment.

Overall, teach your daughters that looking good shouldn’t be their key to happiness or contentment. It’s superficial to depend their happiness on their physical appearance or clothes. If their favorite influencers tell them otherwise, expose them to more empowered public figures. And most importantly, remind them that their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it shouldn’t be abused or used for vanity.

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